Final leg: Part 4


On the 23rd we had a sleep in and in the afternoon explored Domfront which is an ancient walled village and was very pretty. The next day we went to Arromanche to see where the artificial floating harbour was constructed by the Allies and we also visited the 360 degree cinema which provided an insight into how tough it was for the troops. We went on to see the American War Cemetery and the futility of war was clear with the number of crosses which commemorated lost troops by name, and those known only to God. It was an excellent day and we will definitely need to go back to see the rest of Normandy. The 25th we had lazing around Adele and Ian’s house which was a welcome break and gave us a chance to sleep in and unwind in the fresh country French air. Howard picked us up in the afternoon and we had a delicious dinner with Carole and Howard and their friends.

On the 26th Howard dropped us of at Flers to catch the train to Paris and then we mastered the metro to get us to our hotel without too many wrong turns! We had a bit of a rest before heading out again on the metro to visit the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe and Champs Elysee. On the 27th we went again to the Eiffel Tower, this time to go up, it was so busy but the view was worth it. We then walked to the Rodin Museum which was really lovely and then caught the metro to the Catacombes which was pretty creepy. The catacombes were a lime stone mine but were converted to a graveyard in the 1800s for hundreds of thousands of Parisians when the cemetery was full. The 1.7km of tunnels are stacked with bones arranged in macabre patterns which was a bizarre tribute to the dead.

On the 28th Stuart and I decided to venture out to visit the Palace of Versailles (or Ver-silly as Stuart pronounced it). We waited for about 2 hours to get through the tiny entry doors and were royally sick of queues by the time we got inside and had to queue for the audio guides (10 minutes), the ladies toilets (20 minutes) but of course there was no wait for the hommes (or homies according to Stuart). The rooms were spectacular but the grandeur was a little lost due to the over crowding. For Sally’s birthday on the 29th her French friend Audrey came up for the day to visit and we had a great day, despite the rain. We visited parts of the Louvre and luckily avoided the enormous ticketing queues by buying our tickets elsewhere (the French are more helpful to the French!) After that we had a delicious lunch in the latin quarter, finally a traditional French bistro meal Stuart was after. We aren’t sure what we ate, even Audrey didn’t know what was on the menu, but we know it was an entree of foie gras something and then a chicken casserole with potato gratin. Audrey was quick to inform Stuart that pate is for the country people and foie gras is best. After lunch we went to Montmarte and much to Stuart’s disgust, traipsed up the stairs to Sacre Couer instead of taking a perfectly good lift.

On our last day in Paris we visited Notre Dame and went shopping where we bought Stuart a new suit which he plans to wear to work occasionally (show off). We had dinner on a budget that night because we only had a few euros left and didn’t want to withdraw anymore. We went wandering around off the beaten track and managed to stumble across the male gay bar district. Stuart couldn’t get out of there quick enough! We eventually found a nice looking Chinese buffet (seemed that way through the window) which was really cheap so we went inside and sat down, before noticing that people were heating the buffet food up in the microwave. I don’t think that would pass a food safety inspection in Australia but we didn’t get food poisoning!

Early the next morning we caught the train to England and were glad to be leaving Paris, where when you are wandering the streets with a crepe in your hand you need to be careful of the puddles on the footpath because you are unsure if it is water or pee. We were so glad to arriveat the hotel in London as the bathroom was spacious and tea and coffee were provided in the room with UHT milk! How exciting! We didn’t have a lot of time in London so we dumped our bags and headed out to catch one of the double decker buses around the city. The weather was great and we saw sights such as this and this and went shopping on Oxford St. Sally was excited to visit the places on the Monopoly board! That night we caught up with one of Sally’s friends and had dinner at Southbank which was great fun. The next day we got back on the bus to finish the tour before heading to Waterloo station for what we were expecting would be an easy trip to Heathrow. We originally only had to change trains once but due to a train being stuck in a tunnel somewhere the direct line to Heathrow was blocked and we had to go back up and down millions of stairs to catch another 3 trains. It took us 3 hours and Stuart was buggered after carrying what we found out at the airport was 50kgs of luggage. Not fun, but cheaper than a AU$130 cab ride!

The flight on Singapore Airlines was excellent, we still didn’t manage to get an exit row but Stuart had just enough leg room so was reasonably comfortable. Our time in Singapore was very busy, our hosts, Stuart’s friends from uni, didn’t disappoint and we saw a lot of sights in a short amount of time, and managed to avoid the tourists. The first night we had dinner at the best crab restaurant in Singapore and we had way too much food. Stuart went to a nightclub that night and paid AU$40 for a jug of rum and coke and was flabbergasted! The next day he slept in while Sally had coffee with a friend and tried egg jam, which was a specialty. That afternoon we went electronics shopping with our local tour guide and were blown away by the 7 floors of electronic stores. We then went to ‘Little India’ where the locals were celebrating their new year. Unfortunately we didn’t have much time to see the sights but we did have delicious curries for dinner. After that we went out to the Singapore Zoo for a night time safari which was excellent. No need to go to Africa now, we have seen elephants, tigers, giraffe, flamingos and hyenas in Singapore! We went for ‘supper’ after that which is a normal Singaporean thing to do which basically meant having a second dinner at midnight. It was another feast where we tried stingray, sugar cane juice and some really different ice desserts. The Singaporeans were great hosts and it was a lovely end to our holiday.

Now we’re back at work! 🙂 Was a crazy 5 weeks and we really enjoyed ourself! 🙂